Orthopedic Surgery in the Era of Industry 4.0 – An Interview with Carlsmed CEO Mike Cordonnier

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Mike Cordonnier is CEO and co-founder of Carlsmed, a San Diego based Med Tech company. Carlsmed’s Corra system utilizes predictive analytics to create patient-specific surgical plans and 3d printed implants to improve patient outcomes for spine surgery.  Mike has held various leadership roles for large MedTech companies NuVasive, Zimmer Biomet, and Orchid Orthopedics as well as early-stage startups Ellipse Technologies and X-Spine Systems.  Mike is passionate about leveraging technology to improve patient outcomes and decrease the cost of healthcare.  Mike has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Dayton. Mike will be a speaker for 3DHEALS2020 Orthopedic Panel.

Jenny: What was your first encounter with 3D printing like?  

Mike: My first 3D printer that I purchased was in 1998.  It was an early generation of a plastic Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3d printer that I used for making prototypes of electronics cases for handheld diagnostics.  Making 3d printed rapid prototypes saved months in time to market.

Jenny: What were some of the earliest projects you did with 3D printing? 

Mike: I started using 3d printing for medical device purposes in 2008.  One of the first applications of medical 3d printing was for complex clavicle fracture repair.  Working in collaboration with a trauma surgeon and medical device manufacturer, we created an internal fracture reduction system with 3d printed personalized surgical instruments.

Jenny: How did you decide that healthcare and specifically orthopedics will be your focus? (Was this driven by external factors like patients, or was this driven by more internal reasons, such a fascination with life science? )

Mike: I had a sports accident when I was in college and shattered my patella.  While the prognosis was that I may not be able to properly walk again, thanks to the expert surgical work and various medical devices implanted, I have since become a successful marathon runner.  My personal experience drives my mission to provide patients and surgeons better tools and medical devices to allow people to return to an active lifestyle.

Jenny: If you can go back 5 or 10 years, what would you have done differently? 

Mike: I firmly believe that the experiences over my last 5 to 10 years have provided me the wisdom and built the relationships needed to go where I need to be in the next 5 to 10 years.

Jenny: Software, materials, or 3D printers. It has been an ongoing debate in the industry forever as to which is the most important player. What do you think is the most important player in healthcare 3D printing? 

Mike: What drives success in healthcare 3d printing is when the software, materials, and machines work in harmony to achieve the patient and surgeon’s needs.

Jenny: Can you share how Carlsmed differentiates itself from other companies that also produces 3D printed spinal solutions? 

Mike: Carlsmed has developed a platform to generate data driven surgical plans for patients with spine disorders.  Based on the surgeon review and approval of the surgical plan, we 3D print the personalized spine implants needed to achieve the pre-operatively plan.  This is an advancement in the current standard of care for spinal fusion surgery, which requires surgeons to modify the patient anatomy to select the best fit stock sizes of spine implants during surgery. 

Jenny: What was your biggest victory in 2019? Please share that story with us.  

Mike: In 2019, Carlsmed successfully completed the first four level lumbar adult degenerative scoliosis correction procedure with personalized interbody fusion devices on a human cadaver.  This was a landmark moment for the industry, validating the promise of personalized spine fusion surgery. 

Jenny: What is the biggest challenge you are facing in 2020, and how do you plan to overcome this?   

Mike: This year, we are commencing our clinical launch of the data driven surgery platform and interbody fusion devices.  We have had overwhelming response from the surgical community to participate in our clinical launch and our biggest challenges is to scale the infrastructure needed to support the demand.  We are implementing proprietary software tools to intelligently automate processes where possible and a mix of machine learning and human clinical intelligence to continually improve the personalized surgical plans.

Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you?  =)

Mike: 3DHEALS is much more than a tagline, it is a way of life.  It is a reminder that the ultimate purpose of advancements in medical technology is to make treatment simpler, less costly, and more effective for every individual patient.  

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